Bugs & Cranks Home
Bugs & Cranks
July 9, 2013 at 10:47 am ET
No Comments
Death By A Thousand Cuts

These 2013 division-leading (for the time being) Braves have a problem, and it’s this: The team, except when it isn’t, is desperately boring.

It’s a sneaky boring, though. At first you think endlessly striking out, and then even more endlessly striking out with runners on base, and then almost always striking out with runners in scoring position—coupled with an almost abject unwillingness to play station-to-station baseball, to advance the runner from second to third, to try to ground out to the right side, to approach the plate with anything that looks like a plan, to take a shot to the opposite field, to have every batter in the lineup save for the indomitable Freeman swing like he’s swinging for a 5-run homer—at first you think all of that is molar-rattlingly frustrating. At first you wonder if any of these gentlemen ever played Pony League baseball, ever had a coach sit ‘em down for swinging at pitches on their shoelaces or up by their necks. You wonder if anyone’s ever hollered out Fundamentals at anybody from the dugout or the bleachers. If anybody ever took any one of these players to the cages and lined up a stack of quarters and told them anything like Eye on the ball, kid, eye on the ball. Easy rhythm. Told them not to swing up so much. Just to make solid, honest contact. This team bats like it also wouldn’t ever put a knee in the dirt fielding a grounder. It bats like eight blind nuns, plus Freeman, who should, by the way, be an All-Star. It bats like a Little League team. It bats like the portly knuckleballer Phil Neikro did, who once in the 1980s hit a homer with his eyes closed. “I just swing as hard as I can,” he said in his postgame interview, “in case I hit the ball.”

This team needs to take a lap.

I can’t watch Dan Uggla bat anymore. I can barely listen to it on the radio. I love the radio guys, and they’re doing their best to stay positive, to talk about his plate discipline and his robust on-base percentage and whatever other fancy half-doctored stats pretty up the fact that he strikes out 19 times a game, but it’s not enough. He hit two homers over the weekend and I still don’t care. It’s too unpleasant. His swing looks like he’s holding a frozen stretched-out turkey instead of a bat. His swing looks like he’s sneezing. His swing looks like he’s trying to remember how to swing.

If either Upton pops out in foul territory on the infield one more time, I’m buying a Padres hat.

And after a while, you start to think: Maybe I’ll bang my head into the fridge a few times instead of listening to this game. You think: How could Uggla be batting .205 again? You think: How could B.J. Upton still be in the majors with a .175 average? You think: Sure, we won 13-4 the other night in Philly, but we dropped the other two games looking like exactly the kind of schoolyard choose-a-side outfit that might win a game 13-4. And after a season of it, a season of directionless all-or-nothing hitting, you think: at this point, maybe I’m not actually all that frustrated by this anymore. I’ve spent 80 games being frustrated. Finally, when we strand Freeman yet again on third after he’s gotten himself over there with no outs, you think: you know what I am? I’m bored out of my mind. We can’t even find it within us to hit a sacrifice fly. The joy of sport is not knowing what’s going to happen, and I know what’s going to happen. We’re going to strike out or pop it up on the infield.

Yes, Minnesotans and Seattleites and denizens of South Florida, our spot is enviable. Yes, I’m happy to be leading the division. But can anyone take any kind of serious look at these Braves and think they match up well in a playoff series against any other club?

You couldn’t have hit that with a canoe paddle, my dad would say to me on the ride back home from a game. Then we’d go to the cages. And he wasn’t one of those lunatic golf-shirt wearing dads who would try to cover up their failing lives and flagging libidos by driving life-sized Hot Wheels racecar convertibles and endlessly berating their kids on the field. He was and is just a nice guy with a big heart who drove a beater 1968 VW bug and who wanted his kid, who wanted to hit the ball, to have an actual chance of hitting the ball.

There are other problems, I know. The team is half-injured and the bullpen is thin. But here’s the thing about the ‘sit-back-and-wait-for-a-three-run-homer’ school of baseball, which, as religion goes, is as bankrupt as it comes: In order to hit a three-run-homer, you’ve got to have at least these two things in your favor: (1) as far as I understand it, you’ve got to have two of your teammates on base in front of you, and (2) you have to make clean, sharp contact with the baseball.

I’ll tell you who I miss: Evan Gattis. Yes, I spent a thousand words lauding him in this space my last time at the plate, going on and on about his mythic fancy Paul Bunyanness. But you know what I miss most about him? Right before he went on the DL, he’d started sharply grounding singles through the right side. Delivering liners back up the middle. He looked every bit the fundamentally sound baseball player. I dig the long ball as much as the next guy, but, listen, please: I also dig a team nickeling-and-diming you in the third inning, stringing two singles and a chopper that’s too slow to be a double-play ball and a looping double together for a couple of runs—and this team is desperate for that. We need some scratching and clawing. We need some hitting. We need to take some BP. We need some games of pepper. We need something.

A confession: What I really keep thinking is: Isn’t this team better than this? Isn’t the distance between a good team and a great one pretty razor-thin? Isn’t it about execution? About having some idea at the plate other than trying to hit the ball as far as anyone ever has?

My old Little League coach used to have a rule for a struggling batter: Don’t swing until you take the first strike. The idea was: Don’t just swing at anything. Don’t go up there flailing and windmilling after the first thing you see. This team is for sure tilting at windmills. It gets hot and wins a few games and it thinks, let’s just keep closing our eyes and swinging as hard as we can. But then it goes to San Diego and gets swept. It drops consecutive series to the Marlins and the Phillies. It had a division all but wrapped up and then started handing games back in bunches.

And don’t get too excited about last night’s cornfield-in-Iowa fourteenth-inning miracle against those mighty Marlins: yes, there was the sac fly I so desperately wanted in thesixth, and yes, we had my inning in the fourteenth, when we strung together two walks and a double before the rest of the wheels came off the again-fire-sold Miami caravan, and yes, the Braves ended up posting six runs total in the top half of the frame. But before all that happened—and Uggla hung up yet another K in the center of that six-run rally, by the by, his third of the game—the team tried very hard to give up the rare mid-game perfect game. From the singleton in the sixthinning through the fourteenth, 24 Braves were set down in order by various members of the Miami bullpen. Eight innings of Braves. In order. By the Marlins. In front of eleven screaming Miami fans.

I’ve never been so bored getting so wounded. I’ve never tried so hard to convince myself I was bored, and not homicidally fed up. I’ve been trying to explain it to the kids: This isn’t National League baseball. This isn’t even American League baseball. It’s too hard to watch. It’s too hard to hear. I can’t go on. I will, though, of course, go on. Radio coverage starts at 6:30 tonight. Second game of the series at the Marlins. Everything ought to go just great. Swing for the fences, boys. Go Braves.

Read more: , , , , , ,
Print  |  Email  |  Share/Save

Leave a Reply

Latest Posts
Our Sponsors
Vividseats.com is your premier internet destination for all MLB Baseball Tickets, such as Phillies Tickets, Cubs Tickets, LA Dodgers Tickets, Pirates Tickets, Marlins Tickets, and many more.
SecureYourSeat.com are able to provide you with a great selection of Premier League tickets including Arsenal tickets, Manchester United tickets, Liverpool tickets and Chelsea tickets. We also stock a fine selection of Champions League tickets including Champions League final tickets.
Best online sports betting bonuses and promotions at Sportsbetting.com. Join now the most secure online sportsbook!
For a selection of online slots games and casino reviews visit Online Slots Entertainment, a leader in online slot machines since 2003.
AllianceTickets.com carries all MLB Tickets including Colorado Rockies Tickets, Seattle Mariners Tickets and San Francisco Giants Tickets. They carry all Sports Tickets at discount prices.
With Texas Holdem Masters you can get information about the hottest trends in the popular Texas Holdem Poker game, with strategies and tricks so that you can be a master too. At Gambling Experts your poker skills will be upgraded from being an amateur to being an expert.

windows 7 key

windows 7 key

serial winzip 11

serial winzip 11 key

serial corel draw 11

serial corel draw 11 serials

photo shop key

photo shop key

free corel photoshop download

free corel photoshop download keygen

adobe free

adobe free

winrar password cracker serial

wirar password cracker

winrar 3 download

winrar 3 download freedownload

office 2010 professional key

office 2010 key

download photo shop free

photo shop serial

free winrar download for xp

download winrar for xp for free

cs5 serialz

cs5 serialz free

windows 7 free

windows 7 crack

free corel downloads

free corel downloads cracked

office 2010 free

office 2010 key

key office 2010

office 2010 key

photoshop key

photoshop key

windows key

windows key

corel dvd moviefactory 6

corel dvd moviefactory 6 downloads